Saturday night the UFC has their biggest fight so far in 2012, as Jon Jones defends his light heavyweight title against the former champion "Suga" Rashad Evans. The main event is a grudge match that has been simmering for over a year. Like all great fights, the money is always in the rematch, so financially it would be the best interest of the UFC for this to be a competitive fight like a 48-47 split-decision. Unfortunately the oddsmakers and public do not see the fight that way, as Jones is nearly a 5-to-1 favorite, while Evans is a big underdog in the +400 range, which is rare for a UFC title fight.
Here are the odds courtesy of www.BestFightOdds.com followed by some breakdowns of underdog's chances in some of the more noteworthy fights.
Rashad Evans (+391) over Jon Jones
Rashad Evans is a really, really excellent fighter, and although Evans is 12-1-1 in the UFC, at +389 or higher, he is definitely not given much of a chance against Jon Jones. Looking at the fight, Evans has three ways to win the fight:
1. DQ win - Jon Jones drops some 12-to-6 elbows, illegally knees Evans when he is grounded, or maybe if Evans gets a takedown then while postured up gets smacked by an illegal upkick from Jones's long legs.
2. Jon Jones gets injured during the fight. Jones throws a kick to Evans and blows out his knee, thereby crippling his takedown defense. Evans smothers him for at least 3 rounds for a win.
3. Evans lands that power punch and knocks Jones out in the first two rounds. To land that punch will require Evans blitz Jones to get inside his 84-inch wingspan, a feat that is easier said than done.
Che Mills (+472) over Rory MacDonald
Stay away from Che Mills in this fight. Rory MacDonald is my top lock of the night at UFC 145. In only his second UFC fight, Rory was about 10 seconds away from beating current interim-welterweight champion Carlos Condit. The only two questions I have about this fight are does it last more than a round, and does MacDonald win by submission or knockout? I like the submission pick here as Mills has a history of losing by submission (including an exhibition UFC Ultimate Fighter tryout match that is not on his record) and with a submission pick you sometimes see a fighter getting smashed on the ground who taps to strikes.
Eddie Yagin (+472) over Mark Hominick
Very long shot. The UFC does not often give a fighter a "tune-up fight", but for Mark Hominick, coming off a 7-second KO loss to the Korean Zombie, that is exactly what his fight against Eddie Yagin at UFC 145 is. The only question here is whether Hominick plays it safe and outpoints Yagin, or whether he eventually sinks in a submission. Eddie Yagin is one of those guys who get two fights in the UFC after they take a short-notice fight to fill-in for an injured fight. Pass on this underdog, BUT since Hominick is coming off a 7-second flash KO loss, don't be too high on Hominick either, especially since he has lost two fights in a row.
Ben Rothwell (+264) over Brendan Schaub
Ben Rothwell is probably the best underdog on the main card. Rothwell is a tall, durable UFC heavyweight. His opponent, Brendan Schaub, is coming off a first round KO loss to Big Nog back at UFC 134 in Brazil last August. In that fight Schaub was a tidy favorite as well. Schaub has two first-round KO losses in the UFC to gatekeeper types (Big Nog, Roy Nelson). Saturday night in Atlanta, Ben Rothwell may surprise the oddsmakers and ruin a lot of people's nights, if they were heavily favoring Schaub. If you take a chance on Rothwell here, you might as well parlay him with Jon Jones for a little extra kick.
Best Live Dog on the FX Prelim Fights
Chad Griggs (+226) over Travis Browne
Chad "The Gravedigger" Griggs is a heavyweight prospect killer who in Strikeforce ran up a three-fight win streak smashing Bobby Lashley and Gian Villante, and then making Allistair Overeem's brother tap to strikes. Travis Browne is a favorite because he's undefeated, trains at Greg Jackson's camp, and had a highlight-reel knockout of Stefan Struve. In this fight we'll learn how Browne can deal with a heavy-handed opponent who will fight back. Although only 22% of people are picking Griggs on http://Fantasy.Sherdog.com/ , don't make the mistake of sleeping on this Strikeforce heavyweight import.
Best underdog in the top 3 fights at UFC 145?
Rashad Evans +391 (9 votes)
Che Mills +472 (4 votes)
Ben Rothwell +264 (5 votes)
18 total votes